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This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive description of the encounter with Ragnaros in Firelands. It is mostly targeted to healers who desire to have a short but detailed overview of what is expected of them during that fight.
This guide applies to patch 4.3 of World of Warcraft.
Ragnaros is the 7th and final boss encounter in the Firelands raid instance. He is, by far, the most complex encounter, and arguably the most difficult one.
This encounter acts as a sort of "recap" of your healing skills: intense AoE healing, high single target healing, fast dispels, etc. In addition, the fight requires a demanding amount of movement to deal with various abilities.
1. Overview of the Fight↑top
The Ragnaros encounter is a complex fight, split into three phases, separated by two transitional phases. For ease of understanding, we will list all of the phases, their triggering and concluding factors, and the names we are going to use for them.
The damage that the raid will take is extremely predictable, which greatly helps healing tasks.
2. Phase One↑top
Because of a stacking, damaging debuff applied by the boss on the tanks the fight requires the use of two tanks who will regularly taunt off of each other. Other than this damage on the tank, with proper raid positioning, most of the dangerous abilities can be easily avoided or controlled.
First of all, healers should stand more than 55 yards away from Ragnaros, so as to avoid the damage and knock back of Hand of Ragnaros.
Also, healers should not stand within 6 yards of anyone else, to prevent unnecessary knock up from Wrath of Ragnaros.
Additionally, Ragnaros spawns a Magma Trap approximately every 25 seconds at the location of a random player (usually at range). The trap travels through the air to its location, giving players a few seconds to move out of it.
Lastly, healers need to regularly avoid Sulfuras Smash. This ability is cast roughly every 40 seconds. Ragnaros faces a random raid member and then proceeds to smash his hammer on the area in front of him (always about 10 yards from the edge of his lava pool). Three waves travel outwards from the hammers, as illustrated by the following diagram:
The location where the hammer hits is clearly marked with a fire effect. Anyone standing in it must move out. The three subsequent lava waves also need to be avoided. Getting hit by this ability results in death, getting hit by the subsequent lava waves very often equals to death, therefore, dealing with it properly is imperative.
2.2. Tank Damage
Ragnaros performs a melee attack, which hits for around 33,000 damage, in both 10 and 25-man difficulty. Ragnaros performs this attack roughly every 2 seconds, and retains it throughout phases Two and Three.
Burning Wound is a stacking debuff placed by Ragnaros on his current tank. It deals around 4,500 Fire damage every 2 seconds, its duration is 20 seconds and it stacks roughly every 5 seconds. Dealing with this ability requires two tanks who have to taunt the boss off of each other, approximately every 4-5 stacks, to keep the damage done by this ability under control.
Damage on Ragnaros' current tank ramps up progressively until it reaches roughly 60k damage every 2 seconds (not counting fire damage resistance and damage reducing abilities). Once the tank swap has occurred, damage from Burning Wound on Ragnaros' previous tank continues until the debuff drops.
While tank damage is high, raid damage, as we will see in the next sections, is relatively low and extremely predictable, enabling the healers to properly focus on the tanks.
2.3. Raid Damage
The most contributing source of raid damage is Magma Trap. Indeed, since these traps stay for the entire duration of the fight, they eventually severely hamper raid movement. Therefore, a DPS player is assigned to detonating them. The damage they cause is therefore entirely controllable and the assigned player will always try to detonate them when everyone is topped off. Also, they deal fire damage, which can be greatly reduced by Fire Resistance abilities.
Anyone hit by the Lava Waves resulting from Sulfuras Smash will require immediate attention. Indeed, these waves themselves already hit for a high amount of fire damage, but they also leave a DoT that needs to be dispelled rapidly, before it kills afflicted players.
3. First Transition Phase↑top
Splitting Blow marks the end of Phase One and the beginning of the First Transition Phase. After an 8-second cast, Ragnaros will strike the area indicated by a clearly visible ground effect with his hammer, then he will disappear in his lava pool for the entire duration of the transition phase.
Healers, like everyone else, need to move away from the location hit by Splitting Blow. During this phase, they have little to do because the only damaging ability is Lava Bolt, which will regularly damage random raid members.
Whenever not busy healing, healers should use their stun abilities to prevent the Sons of Flame (the adds spawned in this phase) from reaching the stuck hammer left by Splitting Blow, giving the raid more time to kill them. Every time a Son reaches the hammer, it dies and triggers Supernova.
4. Phase Two↑top
Phase Two starts as soon as all the Sons of Flame are dead. If 45 seconds into the First Transition Phase, some Sons are still alive, Phase Two starts anyway.
This phase is very similar to Phase One, with the following differences:
From time to time, Engulfing Flame will cover part of the platform with fire, forcing everyone to move.
4.1.1. Dealing with Molten Seed
Dealing with Molten Seed requires precise movement from the raid. This ability places a Molten Seed at the feet of 10 players in 10-man difficulty and 20 players in 25-man difficulty. This causes 40,000 Fire damage to all allies within 6 yards (hence why spreading out is important). Ragnaros casts this ability exactly every 60 seconds.
The locations where the Molten Seeds are placed explode after a short while, dealing, dealing 100,000 Fire damage to all raid members. This damage decreases the farther away from the Molten Inferno the player is. For this reason, the raid should prepare for Molten Seed by spreading out on the sides of the platform (on one side in 10-man), and then stack together in the middle (preferably close to the boss to prevent damage from Sulfuras Smash), after Molten Seed has been cast, in order to reduce the damage taken by the explosions (since it is distance-related) and make healing more efficient.
Each explosion spawns a Molten Elemental. These adds do not have normal aggro tables. Instead, they fixate on random raid members. They have low health and do not melee hard. Since the raid is stacked up, the elementals will come to the stacking position and need to be AoE-ed down.
Once the elementals are dead, everyone goes back to their original position.
The diagram below illustrates the necessary movement (note that 10-man groups only need to use one side of the platform):
4.1.2. Dealing with Engulfing Flames
Approximately every minute, Ragnaros chooses a third of his platform to engulf in fire with Engulfing Flame. For this purpose, the platform is divided in three slices, from Ragnaros' position towards the exterior:
Players in the affected part of the platform must move away immediately to avoid taking massive amounts of damage.
This ability can sometimes be cast shortly after Molten Seed, potentially requiring the raid to move their stacking position further from the boss.
4.2. Tank Damage
Ragnaros retains his melee attack, Burning Wound, Burning Blast, and Magma Blast from Phase One, and no new tanking-related ability appears. Therefore, healing the tanks is identical to what it was in Phase One.
4.3. Raid Damage
Magma Trap is no longer cast by Ragnaros. Therefore, the high raid damage associated with this ability disappears, making Phase Two an easier phase than Phase One, from a healing point of view.
The great majority of the damage in this phase comes from Molten Seed, their explosions and the Molten Elementals that subsequently spawn. As the raid deals with Molten Seed by stacking up, it makes AoE healing extremely efficient, especially since the Molten Elementals target random raid members, splitting the damage almost uniformly among the raid members.
5. Second Transition Phase↑top
The Second Transition Phase is very similar to the First Transition Phase, with the following exceptions:
Blazing Heat can target anyone except the tanks. Therefore, if a healer is targeted, they need to run towards the edge of the platform in such a way that no Son of Flame or Lava Scion will walk through the trail of flames (the flames heal these adds). Once on the edge of the platform, they need to continue running along the edge until the debuff wears out.
6. Phase Three↑top
Phase Three starts as soon as all the Sons of Flame are dead. If 45 seconds into the Second Transition Phase, some Sons are still alive, Phase Three starts anyway.
From Phase Two, Molten Seed disappears. Ragnaros now regularly summons adds called Living Meteors.
From Phase One and Phase Two, Ragnaros only retains Sulfuras Smash and Engulfing Flame. These two abilities still need to be dealt with as previously explained. However, the 6-yard spacing is no longer compulsory.
New adds called Living Meteors appear in Phase Three. They need to be kited by randomly selected players (can be a healer). We detail how these adds must be dealt with in the next section, but to sum things up, players not kiting these adds simply need to move out of their path.
6.2. Living Meteors
In addition to these mechanics, Phase Three presents an entirely new mechanic, called Summon Living Meteor.
Roughly every 50 seconds, throughout Phase Three, Ragnaros summons adds called Living Meteors. The location where a Living Meteor is about to spawn is indicated by flames on the ground and anyone within 5 yards of the location will take a large amount of Fire damage. Living Meteors do not have aggro tables, fixate on random raid members and cannot be effectively killed (due to their high health). They must be kited by whoever they fixate on, as contact with the Meteor deals fatal damage. More precisely, if a player comes within 4 yards of a Living Meteor, everyone within 8 yards of the meteor takes 500,000 fire damage (instant death). The effect is called Meteor Impact. Note that the Meteors cannot be kited indefinitely, and they will eventually catch up to their target.
Living Meteors have a buff called Combustible, which enables players to cause the meteor to change target. While this buff is active, an attack made on the Meteor will cause it to be knocked back several yards in the direction that the attacking player is facing. Knocking a Meteor back causes it to pick a different target to fixate on and to lose its Combustible buff for 5 seconds.
Whenever a Living Meteor is about to spawn, all players should move away from the designated location. The player being chased by the Meteor should then kite it, while making sure that it is not guided close to any other raid members.
Once the Meteor is close, the player should attack it, in order to knock it back and reset its fixate target. It is imperative to make sure that the Meteor does not get knocked back into other raid members, and that everyone is prepared to possibly become fixated upon.
Phase Three starts as soon as all the Sons of Flame are dead. If 45 seconds into the Second Transition Phase, some Sons are still alive, Phase Three starts anyway.
6.3. Tank Damage
Ragnaros retains his melee attack, Burning Wound, Burning Blast, and Magma Blast from Phase One, and no new tanking-related ability appears. Therefore, healing the tanks is almost identical to what it was in Phase One.
The only difference stems from the Lava Scions from the Second Transition Phase. These adds remain alive until the DPS players kill them. During this time, they continue to melee the tanks.
6.4. Raid Damage
This Phase presents healers with avoidable raid damage that existed in previous phases: Sulfuras Smash (Ragnaros), Engulfing Flame (Ragnaros), and Blazing Heat (Lava Scions). If the raid makes it to Phase Three, it means that raid members have gotten familiar with these abilities, which should now be properly handled and therefore deal only a limited amount of damage.
Living Meteor is the ability that Ragnaros uses to summon the Living Meteors. Standing in the location where a Living Meteor is spawning causes a high amount of fire damage. This can be healed and should not be an issue. More importantly, this ability also knocks back players rather far (in the surrounding lava, most of the time). Players in the air after being knocked should not be healed, unless it can be predicted that they will safely land on the platform (for example, Mages can use Blink and Warlocks can use Demonic Circle: Teleport).
7. Heroic Mode↑top
The heroic mode of the Ragnaros encounter is extremely challenging for your raid, and the healers' job is no exception.
7.1. Differences From Normal Mode
The fight follows the same format as on normal mode, until the boss reaches 10% health. At this point, after a short intermission, a heroic-only Phase Four begins. Below, we list all the changes to the encounter, phase by phase.
One common trait you will notice, which the entire encounter shares, is that every single ability and add in the fight deals considerably more damage in heroic difficulty. To strain things even further, because of highly strict DPS requirements, your raid will, most likely, use a very small number of healers.
7.1.1. Phase One
7.1.2. First Transition Phase
7.1.3. Phase Two
7.1.4. Second Transition Phase
As with the first transition phase, the spawn locations of Sons of Flame are random. Other than this, and increased health and damage done, there are no changes.
7.1.5. Phase Three
This phase is a DPS check, and your raid must bring Ragnaros to 10% health before the 3rd set of Living Meteors.
7.1.6. Phase Four
Phase Four is an entirely new phase, present only in heroic mode. Ragnaros submerges at 10% health, as in normal mode. However, he is shortly afterwards pulled back out by Cenarius, and you have to fight him once more.
At the start of the phase, Ragnaros is healed to 50% health, and he must be brought down to 0% to be killed. During this phase, your raid will have to deal with any Living Meteors which were spawned in Phase Three.
Ragnaros has the following abilities during this phase:
During this phase, three friendly NPCs come to your raid's aid: Cenarius, Malfurion Stormrage and Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem. They each provide your raid with various abilities which allow you to defeat Ragnaros.
The strategy for the encounter, up until Phase Four, is very similar to the one used in normal mode. As you can see, each phase is changed only slightly, but this does have some implications on execution.
Keep in mind that, in all phases except Phase Three, Fire Resistance is sorely needed. It is important, therefore, that those players providing the aura are properly distributed among your raid.
7.2.1. Phase One
Phase One is not greatly changed. All the abilities present in normal mode are still present here, and they should all be dealt with in the same way. The only change comes from how Magma Traps are handled.
Detonating these is not your concern, so you should only make sure that everyone is topped off (and/or shielded) when a new trap is about to be detonated.
Naturally, it is important not to accidentally detonate any traps yourself, by being knocked back into them.
It is likely that, by the time the phase ends, you will have between 1 and 3 active Magma Traps. You will have to simply avoid them, and detonate them at later stages, when raid damage is low. It is also possible to stack up, right as the transition phase begins, use raid cooldowns such as Power Word: Barrier or Anti-Magic Zone and detonate a trap even while under the effects of Magma Trap Vulnerability.
7.2.2. First Transition Phase
The only change to this phase (and the second transition phase) is that the Sons of Flame can spawn in virtually any location around the platform.
If you are a Holy Paladin, you may be asked to stun a mob, in which case you should pay attention to your assignment and the location of the Sons.
The damage from Lava Bolt is significantly higher, so be prepared for this.
7.2.3. Phase Two
The most important change to strategy, during this phase, comes from the fact that Molten Elementals cannot be allowed to melee any players while they (the Elementals) are stacked together. This is due to Molten Power which buffs the Elementals' damage significantly when they are together.
The way your raid will most likely handle the Molten Seeds is that everyone (including the healers and tanks) will stack in a fixed location, and run away from it just as the seeds are being cast. After this time, you should spread out in such a way that the Molten Elemental which is attacking you is not near any other Molten Elementals.
This means that, as a healer, you should never have to heal the initial damage from Molten Seed, and the Elementals' damage to other players should be minimal. However, the damage dealt when the Molten Seeds explode is still present.
It should be noted that this phase has long periods of no raid damage, which makes it an ideal time to detonate remaining Magma Traps.
7.2.4. Second Transition Phase
The Sons of Flame should be handled, in this phase, in the same way as during the first one.
7.2.5. Phase Three
The challenge of this phase comes from the fact that your raid must bring Ragnaros to 10% health (the end of the phase) within 140 seconds (the time until the third set of Living Meteors spawns). This is so because your raid simply cannot handle the gruelling Phase Four with any more than 2 meteors.
When Ragnaros reaches 10% health, he submerges, but he is quickly pulled back out of the lava by Cenarius, and Phase Four begins.
7.2.6. Phase Four
In Phase Four, Ragnaros is no longer stationary. He climbs out of the lava and can move anywhere on the platform. He is healed to 50% of his health, all of which must be depleted in order to defeat him.
As a healer, you must perform the following tasks:
In terms of healing, you should understand that the group of players which is currently assigned to be on the Breadth of Frost will take no damage, while the other group(s) will be taking increasing damage, as Superheated stacks up.